Wednesday, June 25, 2014

REVIEW: IN TOO DEEP ~ TRACEY ALVAREZ


Fido Publishing has graciously provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!


She vowed never to return.

To save her brother from financial ruin, Piper Harland must do the one thing she swore she'd never do - return to the tiny island hometown where Ryan "West" Westlake crushed her heart. Piper is tough, resilient and a little wild - much like the remote and beautiful Stewart Island where she grew up. As a cop who's part of the elite New Zealand Police National Dive Squad, bringing the dead back to their families still doesn't stop the guilt she feels over her father's drowning death. Now, nine years later, she's obligated to return to a hostile community as the outsider, and forced to work with the man who was once her best friend and first lover.

She's a risk he can't take.

West is an Island man, through and through. As owner of the local pub, he lives and breathes the local community, and sure as hell can't imagine living anywhere else. But most of all he refuses to ever fall for a woman like his flighty mother. He lost Piper once to give her the chance to fulfil her dreams of becoming a cop. But now she's back for an unexpected six week visit to help her brother - his best mate. Maybe West wants her a little bit, maybe he can't resist the temptation to tease and touch her, but can he fall in love with such a flight risk?

Saying goodbye for the second time might just destroy them both.


In Too Deep is the first book in the Due South series by Tracey Alvarez.  The story concludes, there are no cliff-hangers, and the book can be read as a stand-alone.

Straight off the bat I loved Piper.  She’s a tough cop, facing her worst nightmare every time she takes part in a search and rescue or recovery dive.  When Piper was a teenager she was best friends with her brother, Ben, and his best friend, West.  She, however, made the mistake of falling for West, and after a few blissful weeks of secret hook-ups, West broke her heart in the worst possible way – telling her he only slept with her because she was convenient and willing, that he wasn’t even attracted to her.  I don’t care what his motivations were (leaving her before she left him, letting her go to follow her dream of becoming a cop in Wellington), once I read this I had a really hard time warming up to West.  Piper and I both learned, however, that it is very hard to stay angry with West.  His treatment of Piper does improve throughout the book, and you truly find yourself rooting for these two.

I didn’t like Piper’s family much at first.  Her brother, Ben, is such an ungrateful jerk, willfully hurting his sister time and time again.  Her sister, Shaye, actually throws things at Piper because she’s mad at her for leaving home.  The thing is Piper has never felt welcome in her own family, always feeling like the outsider; her family don’t try hard to make her feel otherwise, either. On top of that Piper blames herself for her father’s death, and so does Ben.  The author does a really good job of explaining everyone’s motivations, and Piper’s conflict with her family is skilfully handled throughout the book.  It takes several weeks for them to repair their family ties, and this whole thread was very realistic – as was the community’s treatment of Piper.  At first treated very much like an outsider, Piper is gradually reclaimed by the community. 

I was emotionally involved in Piper’s journey right from the start.  Everything she felt, I felt.  Piper's guilt, doubts and fears are all legitimate and the way she handles all of them, and comes to terms with them, leads to wonderful character development.  West also has to face the issues keeping him from the woman he loves, and the author does a good job of seeing both of them through their trials.  As far as romance novels go, this one is very realistic, which makes it that much better.  Everything isn’t perfect, everything doesn’t magically work itself out and a happily-ever-after for Piper and West is never a certainty. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book – especially the ending where everyone finally realises that relationships are give and take.  Piper and West are each willing to make major sacrifices for the other, and everything wraps up as it should.      


Product information:
Title: In Too Deep (Due South Book 1)
Author: Tracey Alvarez
Publisher: Fido Publishing
Year: 2014
Number of pages: 309
ASIN: B00HEZR8V8

Thursday, June 19, 2014

REVIEW: PERSY AND THE PRINCE ~ JANE MYERS PERRINE

Beyond The Page has graciously provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

Persy Marsh grew up in a well-to-do family, with a socially ambitious mother.  Literally making herself sick in order to live up to her mother’s standards, Persy ultimately rebelled, left that life behind and moved into a poor community where she is trying to make a difference.  In the hotel she now works for she meets Jordan Prince, manager of the hotel and member of the wealthy Prince family.  Attracted to each other, Persy and Jordan fight their attraction every step of the way; Jordan knowing a Prince could never get involved with someone like Percy (whom he obviously believes to be a poor dog walker for his hotel), and Percy fearing getting sucked back into the world of the rich she once left behind.  They didn’t count on changing each other, and not caring what society thinks…


I truly hate writing negative reviews, but I honestly battled my way through this one.  Apart from some distracting typos, I had a very hard time warming up to Jordan after his and Percy’s first date. He takes Persy out to a lousy place because he is afraid she would embarrass him at his usual, upper-crust hangouts (and, dare I say, he thinks she should be grateful he deigned to spend his precious time with her at all).  He takes her out with the sole purpose of getting her in his bed.  When she puts a stop to their make-out session, he gets very angry and goes on about how she’d led him on and now refuses to follow through.  When she asks him to forgive her (seriously?!), his response, and I quote: “I don’t want to”.  Such an immature reaction doesn’t endear a leading man to me.  He then states they should never see each other again, and makes her walk home alone – he doesn’t even see her home safely?  How do I respect this guy?  This quote capped it though: “As gorgeous as I am, I don’t understand why she hasn’t fallen madly in love with me”.  I’m not even kidding.  And he’s not just thinking it, he’s saying it to himself in the mirror!  If I had not made a commitment to review this book, this is where I would have stopped reading; at the 11% mark.  He literally thinks to himself “I’ll just stick around until I have her body, then I’ll be content”.  

The next day at the hotel he completely takes advantages of his position as her boss, publicly yelling at her for something she had supposedly done wrong – it turns out she did nothing wrong, but instead of apologising for his behaviour, he finds something else to cause a scene over.  Later he’s intrigued that she’s capable of writing an impressive letter – what, because she’s poor, she’s stupid?  It really went downhill from there.  He enjoys parading by her with a string of glamorous women on his arm, and he says things to her like “You sure know how to ruin an evening”, “stop acting like an idiot” and (after she’s brutally attacked and beaten) “there’s not a man in the world who’d want to be seen in public with your face that colour”. 

I liked the blurb and expected a sweet story about a down-to-earth rich girl who falls in love with an uptight business man, softening his heart with her free-spirited ways - Sadly, this is very possibly the worst so-called hero I’ve come across, and that alone made this book really hard to enjoy.  I like Persy very much and found myself wishing she would raise her standards and find a man worthy of her. I was hoping Jordan would redeem himself towards the end of the book, and while he did improve (slightly), his earlier behaviour had put me off way too much and I just could not come to care for him. 


Product information:
Title: Percy and the Prince
Author: Jane Myers Perrine
Publisher: Beyond The Page
Year: 2014
Number of pages: 153
ASIN: B00KAFQ9HS

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

NEW RELEASE: COME BACK TO ME ~ MILA GRAY (SARAH ALDERSON)

Tomorrow sees the release of Come Back To Me, Sarah Alderson's first novel for adults (she's currently best known for the young adult genre), written under the pseudonym Mila Gray.  

Home on leave in sunny California, Marine and local lothario Kit Ryan finds himself dangerously drawn to his best friend's sister, Jessa - the one girl he can't have.  But Kit's not about to let a few obstacles stand in his way and soon Jessa's falling for his irresistible charms.

What starts out as a summer romance of secret hook-ups and magical first times quickly develops into a passionate love affair that turns both their worlds upside down.

When summer's over and it's time for Kit to redeploy, neither Kit nor Jessa are ready to say goodbye. Jessa's finally following her dreams and Kit's discovered there's someone he'd sacrifice everything for.  Jessa's prepared to wait for Kit no matter what. But when something more than distance and time rips them apart they're forced to decide whether what they have is really worth fighting for.

A breathtaking, scorchingly hot story about love, friendship, family and finding your way back from the edge of heartbreak.



Here is an excerpt to give you a feel for the story.

In the silvery light of the pre-dawn, I park up a block from Jessa’s house. Jumping out the truck I jog around to her side and open the door. She pulls off the sweater she’s wearing – my sweater – and the flip-flops, and I try not to stare, even though the top she’s wearing isn’t leaving much to the imagination.
‘You sure this is going to work?’ she asks me as we walk hand in hand towards her house.
‘I thought you were starting to trust me?’ I say.
In answer she bumps her head against my shoulder.
Just before we round the corner onto her street, I pull her against a tree and run the flat of my hands up her arms. She sighs; a sound I could really get used to. I take her face in my hands and kiss her, a lingering kiss that makes me feel light-headed. The sun’s rising by the time I let her go, smoky gold and red light making Jessa’s skin glow golden. Her hair’s all mussed up so I smooth it down. There’s not much I can do about the inky smudges beneath her eyes or the swollen chapped lips. Girl looks like she’s had a wild night in someone’s bed. One day, I remind myself. If I get lucky.
‘OK. Good to go?’ I ask. She shakes her head but lets me pull her towards her house.

Keep an eye on my blog for my review, which will follow soon.

Friday, June 13, 2014

REVIEW: SILENCED ~ DANI PETTREY


Bethany House Publishers has graciously provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!


A blissful day of free climbing turns ugly when Kayden McKenna discovers the body of a dead climber.  Kayden’s experience and expertise immediately alert her that the fall was no accident, a claim soon confirmed by the Yancey coroner. 

Ever since Jake Cavanagh’s secret past was revealed (by Darcy in Stranded), Landon has been trying to convince Jake to become a deputy with the Yancey Police.  Short staffed and desperate for help, Landon finally convinces Jake to take on this one case.

Kayden’s expertise and connections to the climbing community make her a vital part of the investigation team, and Kayden and Jake are paired together to solve the murder.  Working closely together and spending time alone may finally be the catalyst that brings two stubborn, broken people together.


Silenced by Dany Pettrey is the fourth book in the Alaskan Courage.  Each book can be read as a stand-alone, though I recommend that they be read in order as each book features the same characters, and it’s a pleasure to continue their journeys with them.

Kayden discovered heartbreak at the age of sixteen when her beloved father passed away.  Never mind the pain she felt at losing a loved one, she saw what it did to her mother when the love of her life died.  That’s when Kayden made the decision to never give her heart to a man - if you didn’t give someone your heart, they couldn’t shatter it.  Two short years later Kayden’s mother passed away from Rheumatoid Arthritis.  That loss made Kayden completely withdraw into herself, refusing to ever be dependent on someone else.  Kayden became the strong one in the family; the one who never let anyone see her pain, the one who never broke down, the one who never cried – at least not where anyone could see.  Her mother’s illness also fuelled her to become the health nut we have come to know and love.  Kayden fights every day and denies herself life’s small pleasures in the hope that living a rigidly healthy existence will keep her from suffering the same fate as her mother.


Jake used to be a dedicated, if arrogant, detective.  His refusal to back off a murder case ultimately cost the lives of his wife and child, something Jake has never been able to forgive himself for.  Once the guilty parties were behind bars he left the police, left his town and started drifting from one place to the next, never settling in one place for too long – until the McKennas.  Before Jake knew what hit him, he had a new family; but there was truthfully only one reason he stayed: Kayden. Even though she made no secret of the fact that she didn’t trust Jake, she had his heart and there was nothing he could do about it.


Kayden was fascinated and intrigued – and very possibly, in love – with Jake since the moment she met him; though nobody would ever suspect.  Kayden’s open hostility and distrust towards Jake was a point of contention with her family, but it served its purpose – nobody would ever guess he held her heart.  Ever since the truth about Jake’s past came out, Kayden’s fallen even harder for the strong, silent man who has become a part of her life.  This case, spending all this time alone with Jake, would take every bit of her willpower to stay strong, to remind herself why they could never be together.

Getting to know the woman who holds his heart is a gift Jake couldn’t be more thankful for.  He can’t hide his surprise, though, as Kayden continues to open up towards him.  Could there be any chance, any chance at all, that Kayden could actually return his feelings?  The climbing community doesn’t take kindly to Kayden suspecting one of them to be guilty for the murder, and subtle and not-so-subtle threats soon surround Kayden, bringing out Jake’s protective instincts.  Yet when the case is wrapped up, the threats continue – and they get darker.  When Kayden is severely injured right before his eyes, with him powerless to stop it, Jake can no longer ignore the truth – his past has come back to haunt him, and to once again rip the woman he loves out of his life.


I love the McKenna family, and I love this series, but Silenced may be my favourite yet.  Kayden and Jake have both intrigued me from the start of the series, and I thoroughly enjoyed finally getting into both of their heads – and hearts.  What a joy to watch them embrace their feelings for each other.  Who knew Kayden has been in love with Jake all along?  Yet it makes perfect sense.

The focus on faith is again ever present.  Kayden and Jake share a strong faith, and it makes them that much more compatible, and brings them that much closer to each other.  I especially love Pettrey’soundtrack for the book, and Jake and Kayden’s song happens to be one of my personal favourites – Collide by Howie Day; perfect!

In Submerged the McKennas took me diving; in Shattered they took me skiing; in Stranded they took me on several outdoor adventures, including kayaking, and in Silenced they took me climbing.  Pettrey’s writing is truly exceptional – she doesn’t tell you, she shows you.  I’m always right there with the McKennas, joining them in their adventures – that’s one of the things I love most about this series; I know I’m in for some adventure, suspense, and romance.  This time around we also get to attend two weddings: Cole and Bailie’s, and Piper and Landon’s.  It’s such a pleasure to watch these relationships take off and grow.

I really look forward to the next book in the series, Sabotaged, which will focus on Reef and Kirra.  I’ve had a soft spot for Reef ever since reading Shattered, and I’m very intrigued by Kirra who we met in Silenced.  I look forward reading this story knowing that she might be the one to finally anchor Reef, and he might be the one to repair the damage that was done to her – though we don’t know what happened to change her yet.  Sabotaged is scheduled for release in 2015 – a long wait, but sure to be well worth it.


Product information:
Title: Silenced
Author: Dany Pettrey
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Year: 2014
Number of pages: 337

ASIN: B00GHXROW6

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

REVIEW: CATCH YOUR BREATH ~ SHANNYN SCHROEDER

Kensington Books has graciously provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!


As kids they steered clear of one another - but now a beautiful, well-connected reporter and a sexy, driven detective are all grown-up and on the job. Moira O'Leary's work as a reporter gives her access to some of Chicago's swankiest soirées. She knows how to navigate the jet-set crowd, and her style and confidence help her blend right in. But when her childhood crush starts popping up at posh events, her poise begins to falter - until she realizes she has the upper hand in a high-stakes game of secrets and seduction.

Moira O’Leary has been in love with Jimmy O’Malley ever since she was ten years old; too bad for her that he has never given her the time of day.  Little does she know that Jimmy has always been every bit as fascinated by Moira as she is by him, but as his best friend’s little sister she is completely off limits; so he does the only thing he knows will discourage her – he ignores her.  

By her late twenties Moira has had her fair share of relationships, but she’s never met the man who can make her toes curl with a kiss.  She has a strong suspicion Jimmy is that man, but she has never been able to get him to like her.  Determined to meet her match, Moira decides to start being pro-active – not just in her love life, but also her career.  Moira is a reporter, but has failed to make a name for herself.  Hurt by the fact that those around her see her only as a party girl writing fluff pieces on high society events, she is determined to start writing important pieces that will get her noticed; and she’s determined to meet her match.

Moira is not the only one set on making a name for herself.  Jimmy, a new detective, has no intention of remaining a detective for the rest of his life.  Determined to climb the ranks, Jimmy can’t wait for his big break – that one case that will get him a foot in the door.

When Jimmy is assigned an undercover gig to get to the bottom of secret high stakes robberies among the city’s rich and famous, the last person he expects to see at his first party is Moira O’Leary.  He actively avoids her, yet she manages to sneak her way into his life anyway.  Recognising a story waiting to happen, Moira offers Jimmy a deal; she'll help him get the information he needs in exchange for an exclusive interview once the case is closed.  Jimmy wants none of it, but his partner convinces him to agree.  Moira, being a confidante of the elite, turns out to be Jimmy’s ticket to the inner circle, helping him to become a part of the group he needs to investigate.  Who are robbing these men, and why do they refuse to report it?

When Moira’s first serious article happens to cross into Jimmy’s investigation, Jimmy is insistent that Moira stay out of it; but Moira has no intention of letting Jimmy control her, and she just might be his secret weapon in cracking the case wide open – if only he wasn’t too stubborn to see it.


Catch Your Breath by Shannyn Schroeder is the fourth book in the O’Leary’s series.  Each book can be read as a stand-alone.  Catch Your Breath is slated to be published on 03 July 2014.

I was invested in Moira and Jimmy’s relationship from the get-go.  The author managed to endear both of them to me, they complement each other really well, and I can totally see them as a couple.

The storyline is an interesting one, the dialogue is realistic and the dynamics of the relationships are believable.  The characters are interesting and compelling, and the author does a good job of relating their inner psyches.  I understood Moira’s need to prove herself as a serious reporter, and Jimmy’s need to control everything in his life – also, consequently his fear of Moira, being completely unable to control her.  The fact that Jimmy can’t control Moira makes me like her all the more.  In fact, I got a little frustrated with Jimmy’s high-handed tactics.  It did annoy me that Moira constantly had to convince Jimmy to want to be with her, up to the very end, and she was always the one who initiated everything, so I was a little disappointed that she didn’t at least get him grovelling in the end; but then, I guess Jimmy is not the kind of man who will grovel, and the fact that she loves and accepts him just as he is, is what makes Moira, Moira.

I was a little disappointed by the ending of the book, given that expected a much more tense conclusion (regarding the case), and the reader never even learns who are robbing these men.  The author indicated that they were very dangerous several times, but we never learn their identities or motives.  The sexual content in the book is also more explicit than I prefer, and I ended up skipping those scenes.  


All in all I enjoyed the book, liked the characters and the storyline kept my attention.  I am intrigued by Moira's brother, Liam, Jimmy's brother Kevin and his sister, Norah. The author does a good job of balancing the major characters and the minor characters, and I would be interested in learning their stories.


Product information:
Title: Catch Your Breath
Author: Shannyn Schroeder
Publisher: Kensington Books
Year: 2014
Number of pages: 358
ASIN: B00IO3QQZI

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

REVIEW: RULES OF SURVIVAL ~ JUS ACCARDO

Entangled Publishing has graciously provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!


Melissa and Mikayla Morgan have spent Kayla’s whole life on the run, but from what she doesn’t know.  Kayla’s mother never told her what or who they were running from, but she did teach her the rules of survival – never stay in one place to long, never keep all of your money in one place, never trust anybody, never wait for somebody else to save you, always trust your instincts…

When Melissa is murdered, Kayla is the only suspect and goes on the run.  She knows her mother left her a clue as to the identity of her murderer, but to get it she will have to break the biggest rule of them all: never return to the scene of the crime.  After a year has passed Kayla figures the dust has settled enough to chance it.  Tired of running, desperate to clear her name, she takes a chance and goes back to the house where her mother was killed.

Kayla barely has the letter in her hands when she is interrupted by her nemesis, a bounty hunter named Patrick who has been hunting the Morgan girls all her life.   Sure, her mom was a con artist, but that doesn’t explain Patrick’s obsession with capturing them – surely the reward money couldn’t be a lot for one measly little thief?  By his side is his protégée, a young bounty hunter named Shaun.  Before Kayla can even form a plan of escape, other players join the fray and bullets start flying, causing Kayla to lose the letter in the chaos that ensues.  Kayla has no choice but to flee the house with Patrick and Shaun, but she has no intention of letting them turn her over and getting her arrested for a crime she did not commit.  That’s when Kayla learns they don’t plan to hand her over to the police, but to a man named Jaffe; for reasons unknown to her, there’s a large bounty on Kayla’s head, and this Jaffe person doesn’t care if Kayla is brought to him dead or alive. 

Separated from Patrick, Shaun cuffs himself to Kayla to keep her close and make sure he doesn’t lose their bounty.  Every bounty hunter on the Eastern Seaboard is after the Morgan girl, and he’s not letting her out of his sight – only, he didn’t count on losing the key and being permanently chained to the most exasperating girl he’s ever met.  Mikayla Morgan is a piece of work, and Shaun can't decide if he wants to kiss her or kill her. Initially he doesn't care about the particulars - who wants Kayla or why; all he cares about is collecting his cash.  But the more time he spends with Kayla, running from the police, other bounty hunters and even Jaffe's hired guns, the less he cares about the money. Kayla is brave, tough, smart and funny - frankly, he comes to realise, she's the greatest girl he's ever met.  Who is Jaffe, and what could he possibly want with Kayla?

Kayla has only ever trusted one person in her life – Melissa.  No matter how hard she tries to fight it, how tightly she clings to Melissa’s rules of survival, Kayla slowly comes to trust the bounty hunter who seems to believe her claim of innocence.  To stay alive, Shaun and Kayla must join forces to prove Kayla’s innocence.  They set out to uncover the truth about Melissa’s past, and an eighteen year old crime sheds light not only on who Melissa was, but also who Kayla is.

As the danger mounts and the killer closes in, the chemistry between them threatens to explode.  Can Shaun and Kayla stay alive long enough to explore the feelings neither of them wanted, but neither can deny?  They might have to break all the rules if they hope to have a chance…


Rules of Survival by Jus Accardo is a fast-paced, action packed romantic suspense.  I find the majority of the book to be quite realistic, especially surrounding Kayla and Shaun being cuffed together for days on end – problems such as remaining inconspicuous, using the bathroom, taking a shower and changing clothes are skilfully handled.  The mystery surrounding Jaffe and why he’s targeting Kayla is strong enough to drive the story, and running from cops, other bounty hunters and Jaffe’s men creates a tense atmosphere that made me turn the pages as fast as I could.

I love the characters in this book.  From the get-go the author had me invested in Kayla’s journey.  She’s a great character: streetwise, resourceful, smart and brave, yet she has an undeniable vulnerability that endears her to the reader. Her smart mouth constantly gets her into trouble, but her quick thinking gets her out.  Kayla continuously demonstrates her survival and evasive skills, and Shaun's bafflement and sweet admiration is a joy to behold throughout.  Shaun is a typical bad boy with a tendency to be infuriatingly arrogant, yet his past also comes into play, shedding light on why he is the way he is.  He also has a very soft side which comes out the more he comes to care about Kayla.  Shaun and Kayla are wonderful together; their banter is highly entertaining and their chemistry is off the charts.

The only thing I don’t like about the book is the ending – it does deliver a HEA, but I thought it ended very bluntly.  The entire book is so expressive, I feel that the ending needed a little more depth.  There is no clarity on Kayla’s fugitive status (though it is hinted at – clarity would have been nice, though).  I also would have liked for Shaun and Kayla to have a stronger final scene to tie things off.

Overall though, I enjoyed every single page.  I would definitely read a sequel – Kayla and Shaun are great characters, great together, and I would love to spend more time with them.


Product information:
Title: Rules of Survival
Author: Jus Accordo
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Year: 2014
Number of pages: 202
ASIN: B00K9OOELS
  

Monday, June 2, 2014

FREE ON AMAZON: CRITICAL CARE ~ CANDACE CALVERT

For a limited time the Kindle edition of Candace Calvert's Critical Care is free on Amazon!  You can read my review here, and download the book here.  Grab your copy stat!


After her brother dies in a trauma room, nurse Claire Avery can no longer face the ER. She's determined to make a fresh start- new hospital, new career in nursing education - move forward, no turning back. But her plans fall apart when she's called to offer stress counseling for medical staff after a heartbreaking day care center explosion. Worse, she's forced back to the ER, where she clashes with Logan Caldwell, a doctor who believes touchy-feely counseling is a waste of time. He demands his staff be as tough as he is. Yet he finds himself drawn to this nurse educator . . . who just might teach him the true meaning of healing.

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